Whilst people went out to the city centre for the St Patrick’s Day celebration (17th March), Mengjia, accompanied by her two friends, took the courage to perform guzheng music out there. Read on what Mengjia told us.
Tell us about you and your instrument
My name is QU Mengjia (屈梦佳) and I am a postgraduate student from China studying Master in Broadcast and Media Production at Queen’s University Belfast. I have been playing guzheng since the age of 6 and received my Grade 10 Guzheng Professional Certificate when I was 11 years old.
The guzheng is a kind of traditional Chinese string musical instrument that has had a history of over 2500 years. It first appeared in China during the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC) and became prominent during the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE).
Why did you want to play it on St Patrick’s Day?
I have had the idea of performing guzheng on the streets of Belfast since I came to study at Queen’s, because before I came to the UK I saw social media videos on Chinese students performing traditional Chinese arts overseas, and I wanted to do the same thing. I was particularly inspired to do this event after watching the Chinese New Year celebration this January, including guzheng performance on campus. Most of the audience were students and staff members, Chinese or not. I thought that I could help to do more by promoting guzheng performance in Belfast city center, where I could reach more people, both local and international, and introduce such an instrument through my performance. I chose St Patrick’s Day just because it was a great occasion to meet a large number of people in the downtown area as the parade started there.
How did you feel about your performance on the day?
Well, it was a pilot performance and I think this was the first guzheng performance ever done outdoors in the downtown Belfast area. I was quite excited to see many people around me. I have to say that the weather was so bad as it rained with gusty winds. We had to wait for the intervals when the rain stopped. I played a number of famous guzheng music such as Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (aka China’s Romeo and Juliet), and with the help of my two friends, LI Jiaqi and WU Xiaoya, we managed to disseminate our performance information sheets, speaking to people passing by. I hope that I had introduced the beauty of the guzheng music and that would encourage greater appreciation for Chinese guzheng culture. Also, through sharing my passion for this traditional instrument, I hope to inspire others to explore and learn more about the diverse cultural traditions of our world.
Do you have any plans for the following up outdoor performances?
Not yet, as I need to complete my assignments first. But I would like to do so when the weather becomes nicer, ideally in the third semester when my courses all end and I can focus on my dissertation writing up, with guzheng performance as part of my social life. I also look forward to doing it on campus if there are suitable events that I can contribute to.
Finally, we would like to thank Mengjia for sharing her Instagram account with us, which includes a video clip of her performance on the day! You are welcome to share your thoughts and comments with us in the reply box below or with Ying on her social media.